Tango Topics | Exploring Your Dance

Today’s Tango Thought 057: El Corte.

The words “El Corte” translated to English from Spanish literally means ‘Cut, or Edge’. However, in the Tango world, the word has another meaning: Nijmegen, The Netherlands. What’s in/at Nijmegen ? A dance studio of certain renown: El Corte! Think of El Corte as one of your GoTo destinations in europe. And really, the gateway to a whole other world of Tango that you might not be aware of. This is assuming you want to experience dance in an environment that is at once fun, and at the same time entirely engaging on multiple levels. Caveat: You must be willing and open to a whole different way of looking at Tango, and what you think Tango is and is not.

Still another reason to visit El Corte is it is the very foundation of what this page talks about: Social Tango. “Social Tango” has two definitions that Tango Topics rabidily talks abouve: 1.) The act of being social, talking, catching up with friends, being with people while at a Milonga. 2.) The act of dancing at a Milonga on a very crowded floor, in an extremely conscious, but very, economical and musical fashion, that is based on the embrace and the walk, and not on steps, patterns, or figures.  Sometimes, not always, ‘Social Tango’ is mistakenly referred to as “Salon” style Tango with one major difference – smaller is better. Salon encompasses a wide range of ideas and practices – open to close to ‘v’ and everything in between. Whereas Social Tango is smaller subset of Salon that keeps things within the 5 Social Figures realm, with an emphasis on DIASS methodology. And if you don’t know what those things are, follow the links and get edumacate. 🙂  Put simply, Salon is the catchall idea of tango, whereas Social Tango’s 2 primary guiding principles are 1.) Close Embrace – Squared Up or Buttons-To-Buttons, sometimes referred to Core-To-Core. 2.) Smaller. Everything that is done as if you were dancing on a crowded social dance floor in BsAs – Smaller vocabulary, and it’s execution.

Hmmm, this is a Tango Thought about El Corte, remember ? Where does El Corte fit into this ? El Corte exemplifies both of these defintions. It embodies the 1st one in spades and actively encourages it with the layout of the space itself. The welcoming environment of the open salon area for lounging and kicking back. And then teaches the 2nd of these defintions as a way of accessing the dance. It is DIASS Methodology in Tango in actual practice.

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El Corte raised the bar of Salon style Tango which would eventually give birth to the recent idea of the Tango Marathon (and then it’s later iteration which was a backlash to the over-popular Marathon concept: The Tango Encuentro) but ultimately moving more towards Social Tango. How’s that ? They pioneered the idea of a beer/water/juice/wine bar combined with snacks, lounge chairs, with a refined version of dancing in a small space (DIASS), while creating an extremely relaxed non-dance studio studio environment combined with an insatiable desire to explore ideas of what tango is and could be to create a different idea of  Tango. This idea co-combined with what was being taught, how it was experienced, and the personnel that was presenting these ideas in a relaxed environment was a major revolution in Tango’s social development in Europe. It emulated the experience in Buenos Aires almost better than Buenos Aires did itself.

One thing to note about El Corte, and it’s also a cautionary note to those of you who are looking for the creme-de-la-creme experience: To be fair this we’re not throwing shade – After your first few times, you may notice that the quality of dance never goes up or down. Then again, the quality of dance is never going to be the same thing twice.  It’s always about the same. 🙁 This is not a slight against them, or their way of teaching, it’s a statement about their focus on Inclusionary Tango and not exclusionary Tango. So you may have a really amazing dance experience, and the next time you go, you may sit. Why ? It’s about their focus on 1st definition of Social Tango, and not necessarily the 2nd. That is until you experience the Chained Salon Weekend. Everyone, in their opinion, everyone should be able to have a nice time. Everyone should dance. Everyone should dance with whomever they want to dance with. This is about fun, and creating a fun environment to play in. It’s also about who shows up. In a lot of ways this is kinda like Stone Soup for Tango, or as Tom Hanks character, Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get!“. The Milonga experience at El Corte is very similar to this ideal. There’s a reason for this and that’s because there are hundreds of people from all over Europe visiting for the weekend bringing with them all with varying levels of quality and ideas on what is desirable Tango. So you’re bound to have a chocolate-like experience on multiple levels. That is until the Chained Salon Weekend starts.

Wait!!! What’s a ‘Chained’ Salon ? It’s a series of Milongas, one right after the other that people come out of the woodwork for. In a lot of ways it’s very similar to the Encuentro concept. And, again, there’s a reason for that. Why ? Because the Encuentro ideal is based on the El Corte model in a many ways, but there are more or longer milonga time periods with an emphasis on being social but leaning strongly and decidedly towards the second definition of Social Tango. How that ? El Corte combines both definitions of Social Tango through dancing, through a series of workshop, through a ‘space lab’, through a constant vibe of “this is Social Tango” without ever saying the words. Over the course of a weekend starting on Friday night and ending on Sunday afternoon you will feel this constant thrum of this idea and start to melt into it without ever noticing that you have. From the dutch breakfast to the soup at midnight, and the constant snacks in between, with changing DJs and musical tastes and ideas you’ll get a sense of a fluid idea for the life of and the embodiment of Social Tango. To be clear: There are definitive breaks in between each Milonga time period. There’s an afternoon Milonga, and an evening Milonga. There is food, but not a meal unless you stay over in either the loft area, or the apartments, then there’s breakfast. Other than that there’s just two more things you need to know:

1.) The Milonga Weekend itself is Free! Yup. You read that correctly. You can go and dance, and not pay a dime to get in. Nada. Zip. Zilch. You’re not reading things incorrectly and it’s not a misprint. There’s not catch. No gotcha. You can go. Dance. And not open your wallet once. However, at some point you’re going to want something strong than water so you may want to enjoy their bar. The snacks are free. The water is free. The Milonga is free. The bar is not. 🙂

2.) When the Milonga stops, you must go outside for about an hour or so, while they clean and make ready for the next Milonga session, and then you must re-que to get back in! They have a very specific number of people that can be inside El Corte at any one time. So once you leave, you’re out. IF there are other people waiting to get in, and there usually are, you’re not getting back in.

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Have you seen some of our Popular Posts ? On the topics of Asking A Woman To Dance ? Asking a Man To Dance ? The Follower’s Rescue Plan ? La MarcaTango RigidityI Move MeResistanceConnection ? The Active Follower ? The Seven Basic Moves of Tango ? These topics and more are some of our more popular items, go look. You won’t be disappointed! 

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The Highlight of the Chained Salon Weekend: Owner, maestro, teacher extraordinaire, and all around fab person – Eric Jorissen. Spend a weekend with Eric, and his Chained Salon workshops, and they’ll change your Tango life. Usually his space lab and his Sunday afternoon sessions are packed (upwards of 200 ppl) and usually, his sessions are on DIASS (Dancing In A Small Space). His ideas on Tango, and the demonstration of these ideas has quite literally revolutionized tango and changed the very fabric of Tango in Europe. He makes the material easy, accessible, and quite fun. He doesn’t stress you out about getting it perfect but more about getting you to try out these ideas, and to start using them in your dance, immediately. Honestly, there are very few teachers that this site recommends you go study with, Eric Jorissen is one of them for a variety of reasons. You want to spend time in these sessions. You’ll notice that NO ONE sits out, no one, and they’re usually packed, especially the SAT/SUN sessions. The funny thing is that usually before the Friday Night session, the line of dance is like the wild west, boleos, ganchos, colgadas, crazy dancing in the middle of the floor to an extent. But after the session, most of that stuff disappears, and things calm down a bit. The same thing happens on Saturday afternoon after the Space Lab, things get more refined and more clear, and more clean! And finally by the 3rd session on Sunday, the line of dance looks more like you would hope it would, the quality of dance goes up not down. So if for no other reason than to visit the Netherlands, to dance at El Corte, or to spend a few weeks there to dance, learn, study, practice, play, explore, or to hang out with Eric, you really should go spend time in his sessions. No. Really! You should! 

PS: The crown jewel of the El Corte experience is New Year’s Eve! Quite possibly the best experience in Europe for NYE! There are sleeping spots at El Corte & showers…and They have sleeping mats for sleeping on the Mezzanine OR dorm rooms that can be rented very cheaply so you could stay and hang out, just something to consider. You can reserve a sleeping spot from their website or call them directly.

Visit their Facebook Group Page, or Website for more information.

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